UNAIDS Executive Director Discusses HIV/AIDS Fight on C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot on Thursday in an interview on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" answered questions about his role in, observations of and goals for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Piot said he is in Washington, D.C., to discuss with incoming World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and incoming UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman their organizations' leadership roles with HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries. When asked about the role of UNAIDS in fighting HIV/AIDS, Piot said that the agency coordinates all AIDS-related efforts within the U.N. system so that global HIV/AIDS organizations "have one song sheet. We all sing one song, and it's not so easy to do that." Piot said that as executive director, he is "the conductor of the orchestra of all the AIDS efforts" and has worked during his tenure to place HIV/AIDS on the political agenda of wealthy countries. He also said he has redefined AIDS as "not just a medical curiosity but as an obstacle to social and economic development ... and also a threat to security and stability," and he works to make sure there is continued funding for countries affected by HIV/AIDS. According to Piot, about $200 million was spent on HIV/AIDS in developing countries when UNAIDS was founded seven years ago, compared with approximately $6 billion last year. "Our job is really to make that money work and make sure that all the players are working in the same direction," Piot said.
Piot cited the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS to 15 focus countries -- and the Group of Eight industrialized nations' HIV/AIDS initiatives as successes in the global fight against the disease and noted that 35 presidents in developing countries are leading efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in their countries. "When global leaders meet today, AIDS is part of the agenda. AIDS is now part of the same league as nuclear weaponry, fight against terrorism, global warming and so on, and that's the way it should be," he said (Harleston,"Washington Journal," C-SPAN, 4/28). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer and Windows Media.